Car Brakes 101: How Long Do Car Brakes Last?

The braking system in your automobile is extremely important for your safety. Knowing how long automobile brakes last might help you determine when they require maintenance.

When you push the brake pedal, the automobile comes to a complete halt. Sure, it’s the basic idea behind your braking system, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. It’s easy to become perplexed by this system’s multiple moving elements, hydraulic fluids, and friction compounds.

As a car owner, you’re usually concerned with the brake pads and rotors, or brake shoes and drums, while thinking how long do automobile brakes last. We’ll go through how long brakes last and how to make them last as long as possible in the sections below.

how long do car brakes last

What are the functions of car brakes?

Let’s take a high-level look at how your car’s braking system works before we get into the lifetime of automobile brakes.

When you press the brake pedal, your vehicle’s vacuum system activates the brake booster, which forces the plunger into the brake master cylinder. The brake fluid is pressurized by the plunger pressure, which triggers the brake callipers in a disc brake system or the wheel cylinders in a drum brake system.

To stop the car, the callipers or wheel cylinders force the brake pads or brake shoes on the friction surface on the braking rotor or drum. Brake pads deteriorate as a result of the heat and friction generated during the braking process, which eats away at the friction material on the pads. This wears down the brake rotor or drum as well, although at a far slower rate.

Braking pads and shoes, as well as the brake drum and rotor, wear out over time and must be replaced. When just 2.5 mm of friction material remains on the pad, it is time to replace it. Let’s see how long it will be before you need to replace your brake pads.

car brakes 101 how long do car brakes last

Brake Pads: How Long Do They Last?

Many factors come into play when determining the lifespan of your brakes, including the type of brake pads you use, the type of driving you do, the driving conditions, and how aggressively you drive.

Brake pads typically last between 40,000 to 105,000 kilometres, however, it’s not unheard of for them to last up to 125,000 kilometres. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that influence how long your brakes last.

Types of Brake Pads

There are three primary varieties of brake pads available today, each with its own set of advantages. The key distinction between these three varieties is the brake pad material, which has a considerable influence on the brake pad’s lifetime.

At least two of the three pad types are normally available when you change your brake pads at a parts store, service facility, or dealership.

Brake Pads Made of Organic Materials

Organic brake pads are made out of a range of natural components such as rubber, carbon, fibreglass, and others that are all held together by resin. These pads are often the most cost-effective option and offer enough braking force for most passenger cars. However, they are soft pad that wears out the most quickly of all pad types.

Brake Pads with a Semi-Metallic Finish

Semi-metallic pads are one of the most popular choices since they offer a good mix of durability and affordability. These pads are somewhat more expensive than organic pads, but they last far longer since they are tougher and more resistant to high temperatures.

Brake Pads Made of Ceramic

The top-of-the-line alternatives are ceramic pads and carbon-ceramic brakes, which not only have high heat tolerance but also last the longest and emit the least apparent brake dust and noise. They also put the least amount of strain on your braking discs, extending the life of your rotors. Ceramic pads, on the other hand, are the most costly of the bunch.

Position of Brake Pads

The location of the brake pad on the automobile influences its lifetime. When braking, the front brakes bear the bulk of the force, while the rear brakes just aid to level the car by avoiding nose-diving.

Conditions for Driving

Brake pad longevity is also affected by the circumstances you drive in. If you have an open road with little traffic and few stops on your daily drive, your brakes may last far longer than the average. If you’re like most of us and deal with stop-and-go traffic daily, your brake pads and rotors may wear out much faster.

Style of Driving

Your driving style might also have a big impact on how frequently you require brake repairs. Some driving techniques might increase the life of brakes while others can shorten them.

all you need to know about car brakes

Driving Styles that Shorten the Life of Brake Pads

The following are some driving styles that might cause your brakes to wear out quickly:

  • Two-Foot Driving: Despite the advice of many driving instructors, some drivers like to drive with two feet, one on the accelerator and the other hovering over the brake pedal. The foot lingering over the brake pedal may make contact with the pedal, generating mild friction between the brake pads and brake rotors, which can heat the pads and cause them to wear out faster.
  • Hard braking: When you wait until the last possible second to engage the brakes, then have to brake hard to stop in time, your brakes are put under abrupt and excessive stress. A lot of this might shorten the life of your brake pads. 
  • Frequent Towing: Towing a trailer adds to the heat and stress that your brake pads and rotors are exposed to, which can cause them to wear out faster than normal.

Driving Styles that Help Brake Pads Last Longer

Some driving practices can increase brake pad life, just as certain driving methods chew up brake pads faster.

  • Following at a safe distance: Maintaining a safe distance between you and the automobile ahead of you not only prevents accidents but also decreases the likelihood that you’ll have to slam on the brakes to avoid causing one. This allows you to brake gently and consistently, thereby extending the life of your brake pads.
  • Frequent highway travel: Staying on the highway and away from the side streets decreases the amount of stop-and-go driving, which may save your brake pads a lot of wear and tear.
  • Downshifting (manual transmission only): You may slow down a car with a manual gearbox by making well-timed downshifts. The engine will take care of the initial slowing of the vehicle, relieving the brakes of some of the strain.

Symptoms that You Might Need New Brake Pads

While it’s impossible to predict how long your brakes will last, there are certain telltale signals that it’s time for brake servicing.

Screeching noise that doesn’t stop

A tiny metal tab pointed toward the friction substance is seen on certain brake pads. When the brake pads wear past their serviceable life, this tab is designed to contact the brake rotor, resulting in a constant, high-pitch screech. If you hear this noise, check your brake pads using a brake pad measurement tool or have a professional evaluate them.

When braking, there is a grinding noise

You may hear a grinding noise if you wait too long to replace your brake pads. The brake pad’s metal backing plate rubbing on the braking rotor or drum produces this sound. Many problems arise as a result of this, including hot braking fluid and excessive rotor wear. If you hear this noise, you most likely need new brake pads as well as new rotors.

When braking, there is a vibration

When you brake, you may notice a vibration in the steering wheel or seat, which indicates that your brake pads are worn unevenly and need to be replaced. However, a high spot might be caused by a bent rotor or simple material transfer from the pads to the rotors. A professional inspection will be able to confirm the problem.

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